Dear Readers: I have a new book coming out, and I think it's probably the most important book I've written so far. It's titled "Bankrupt: The Intellectual and Moral Bankruptcy of Today's Democratic Party." And here's why I think it's so important -- and why it must be read before the upcoming elections.
The sad fact is: The oldest continuous political party in the world is bankrupt. While the Republican Party is far from perfect and could do much better on immigration, domestic spending, and other issues, it does stand for principles beyond winning. It is the only party that can be safely entrusted with the most important issue of our day: the War on Terror. What weaknesses it has could be vastly reduced with a renewed commitment to conservative ideals across the board.
Democrats, on the other hand, have few policies beyond attacking President Bush and have long lost any legitimate right to claim they are a responsible opposition party. The "Scoop Jackson" Democrats of the 1970s who understood the need for a strong national defense are long gone, with few exceptions, like Sen. Joseph Lieberman, whose responsible statements on the war have led to his ostracism by the party elites. The 1970s Catholic, Southern, and blue-collar Democrats who stuck by their traditional moral values are now mostly "Reagan Republicans."
In their desperation to regain the power they held for decades, Democrats have seized on a few isolated scandals and manufactured others, trying to paint Republicans as fostering a culture of corruption. But the real systemic corruption is in the Democratic Party, from its highest positions of leadership to the bowels of its Bush-hating, antiwar base.
The party's decline took firm root in the late 1960s and 1970s, but has accelerated dramatically over the last decade. Today's Democratic Party -- the party of Al Gore, John Kerry, Howard Dean, Harry Reid, Joseph Biden, Edward Kennedy, and Hillary Rodham Clinton -- is the party that sacrificed all moral principle to defend Bill Clinton in the 1990s no matter what the scandal. It is the party that adopted the Clinton mode of conducting politics as an art of personal assassination -- while accusing the other side of doing it.
It is the party that tried to steal the presidential election in 2000, then convinced itself that Republicans did steal it -- and has been paralyzed with bitterness and conducting revenge politics ever since. It is the party that demands bipartisanship and reconciliation, but whips President Bush with the olive branch he extended at their behest.
It is the party whose ex-presidents routinely violate the long-standing tradition against criticizing their successors -- and even do so on foreign soil.
It is the party that falsely claims President Bush is trampling on the Constitution -- while making no secret of its own willingness to subordinate the Constitution to its own political ends, most notably through using the judicial branch to "legislate" policy it cannot achieve through democratic means.
It is the party that isn't honest about its core convictions, knowing that honesty will render it even less electable in a center-right America. It denies its liberalism in favor of the euphemistic "progressivism." But while "progressive" implies "forward-looking," Democrats are mired in the past, reactionary on issues from Social Security (don't change a bankrupt system) to Iraq (don't defeat a hostile dictatorship and try to make it a democracy).
It is the party of elites who look down their noses at red-state America. It is the party that snubs Christians and "values" voters yet claims to be their authentic representatives. It is the party that can't decide whether its electoral difficulties stem from its failure to effectively articulate its message or from the wholesale stupidity of an electorate that's too Christian, too much in favor of traditional family values, and too patriotic.
It is the party that often doesn't even bother to offer alternative policies, but chooses instead to slander President Bush and obstruct his policies. In the last few decades the party has increasingly engaged in the destructive partisan politics of class and race warfare, further alienating and dividing Americans. But it has sunk to new lows more recently with the egregious practice of playing partisan politics with our national security.
My book, whose introduction I've adapted for this column, is an indictment of today's Democrats -- in their own words, and meticulously documented -- revealing them to be a party of moral and intellectual bankruptcy with little promise of redemption in sight. Our country needs a responsible opposition party -- a party willing to participate in an honest policy debate -- but sadly, the Democrats fall way short of the mark.